tv [untitled] April 21, 2012 8:30am-9:00am EDT
black enders, daughter of charlie black, a reporter for the columbus ledger inquirer who was embedded with the 7th cavalry during the battle of the ia drang valley. >> tracy, tell me a little bit about your father, and who he was. >> okay. dad was a military reporter for the "columbus ledger inquirer" which was basically the hometown paper for the first cav. he started covering them when they were the 11th air assault division. basically followed them through, somehow got himself on the troop buses, and took the troop ships over to vietnam with them. >> wow. >> so he actually traveled on the ships with them, a lot of the guys got to know him then, really got to trust him. >> right. >> which was important for a reporter. and you know, landed in vietnam with them. >> and how did he get himself kind of embedded? >> early embedding.
he was just so persistent. but, even more than that, i think that the public information officers saw a great deal of -- they just felt as though they could trust him, and they felt as though he could take the story back to the hometown where the wives were waiting, and that kind of thing. so, and he was just a very persuasive man. >> so was he -- he was a career journalist? this was what he wanted to do? this was his -- he kind of fell in to journalism. >> yeah? >> he was a marine. knocked around with a lot of jobs. he was an iron worker. and basically had hurt himself, broken his back doing iron working, had fallen on a job, and some gentleman offered him, you know, some tiny sum of money
to read the news on the local radio station while he was recovering. >> okay. >> and basically found a passion for it at that point. but was really self-made. >> okay. what kind of man was he? i mean you described that, tell me about his personality. >> he told a great story. was incredibly smart. i mean, and with a photographic memory. he had a great deal of respect for the military, and was a real patriot. i mean, a real patriot. in my house, you stood up, even if the national anthem was on tv. >> wow. >> and for this day i've never seen a jane fonda movie because we were forbidden to see anything with jane fonda in it. >> he was a really big supporter of the troops? >> big supporter of the troops.
>> have you heard about what his thoughts were about the vietnam war in general? before he went over? >> i think that he, in the beginning, i think his interest in it was in following the first cav. and i know that he believed that we needed to stop communism. and he really did believe in the mission in vietnam. what he became angry about, and very upset about was the fact that men went over, and women, they went over and they served, and they did so honorably, and when everything went bad politically, the american public couldn't separate the two. they couldn't separate the honorable service from the politics of the war. >> mm-hmm. >> and he became very bitter about the treatment of the -- of
the soldiers when they returned home. not so much in columbus, but he just saw it in general. and so i think he believed in america being there in the beginning. i think he believed that we didn't fight the war to win it by the end. >> okay. he went over in 1965 with -- >> yes, he went over with the cav, and he went seven separate times. so he was there i think as late as might have been 1969. >> wow. >> yeah. >> so he saw a lot. >> he saw a lot. >> an evolution of the war. >> absolutely. >> how old were you when this was all happening? >> i was born november 20th, 1964. >> okay. >> so just not even a year old. >> right. >> when he was over there, as a matter of fact, i remember one of my earliest memories is of crying trying to pull my mom away from dad, because i didn't know who he was. >> wow, okay. >> because then, he got -- he
would get himself over there, but they never really gave him a lot of money. >> mm-hmm. >> and so he would stay for a long period of time, because that was more cost effective than making these multiple trips. and wasn't until i guess "newsweek" maybe did a profile on him, and printed his weekly salary that i think they probably almost quadrupled his salary at that point. he was making nothing. i mean, just next to nothing to be over there. >> tell me about his first job and what he saw in '65, and your part of this -- part of the reunion here is about the anniversary of the ia drang battles. did he witness any of those? was he there to see that? >> oh, yeah, absolutely. >> still me about that. >> he was with them, i mean he was with them that entire campaign, essentially. he -- he was a reporter, but they would actually bring him in
to planning meetings when they would be planning going in to landing zones and what have you to ask his opinion. because he really had -- was self-taught on kind of military strategy, and they had a lot of respect for him. >> mm-hmm. >> with that. but, he would probably be in places that today they, you know, would shudder to think a journalist could get into. >> right. >> but they trusted him. >> well that says a lot about him. >> that's what came across loud, and it still comes across to this day, is how much the guys trusted him. and he went in to -- they did a night landing. he went in with colonel stockton with the 1st to the 9th, who was just shortly after there, i believe, relieved of his command. >> yes. >> he was the third person off the helicopter behind colonel stockton and his radio operator. and the story is, as i get it,
as my mom retold it and others have retold it is, that stockton turned around and asked him, what his wife's name was. and he said mary. and he says why? and he said you son of a bitch crazy enough to get off a helicopter if he doesn't have to, this is now landing zone mary. >> oh, wow. >> yeah. and i read about this, i read about the account first in a book by j.k. coleman, about the campaign, because he was really the historian that documented the entire campaign at that time. and i called my mother and asked her about it, because, you know, i hadn't -- did you know this? she goes, yeah, you know, i'd just kind of forgotten about it. time, age, whatever and she says, yeah, she says remember the old tobacco tin that i keep up on the shelf. and i says yeah, the red one that kind of has the hole in it. she says yeah, that was in his left breast pocket during that landing zone, and she says that's what stopped the bullet. >> oh. >> but she says he was almost killed two or three times.
>> hmm. >> during, because they got themselves in an ambush. >> hmm. >> and i guess it got pretty hot and heavy. >> yes. >> but, so he was there, he was at landing zone falcon. >> mm-hmm. >> he came in towards the end, i believe of albany, but everything was over at that point. but really, he was there for the entirety of the campaign. >> right. do you remember, based on what your mother has said, and based on what you've read, how he -- how he remembered that whole campaign and the significance of this campaign with -- with this being the first real -- >> he really, he understand the significance of it. i mean he really understand the significance of this new kind of air mobile concept. >> right. >> and i think that he also understood that what they did during that battle was really going to change the face of warfare to a great degree. he always talked to me, even, you know, before i could really
understand and relate it to the rest of this, about how difficult it is to fight an embedded, you know, troops basically. >> right. >> on hostile terrain with, you know, with -- where basically they're using guerrilla warfare. and dad got that early on that you couldn't fight a conventional war, and that he thought that's what this campaign proved. >> right. >> that you had to take it to them where they were. >> mm-hmm. >> and you know, your conventional war was just not going to work in vietnam. >> right. did he ever talk with then-lieutenant colonel war? >> oh, yeah. >> tell me about that conversation. those conversations what he cleaned from war, what his opinion of war was. >> he had a lot of respect for colonel moore and colonel moore has a lot of respect for him, still. and dad never talked a lot about that part of his life with me.
so i can't say any conversations in specific. >> do you know what your mother told me? >> what my mom's told me was that they talked a lot about tactics, and rappelling out of helicopters. dad was actually certified to rappel out of a helicopter with these guys. >> wow. . and he talked a lot with colonel moore about the actual, how do you get the guys out of the helicopters and onto the ground? you know, the real nuts and bolts of, you know, the eleventh air assault division, how do you make it happen without getting your guys shot before they even put a boot on the ground. so there was a lot of that, i think, before they left for vietnam where they talked about it. >> and i'm remembering now having read the book again for the fifth or sixth time that colonel moore mentions your
father. >> yes. >> and the respect he has. >> yeah. >> only a few journalists worth their salt. >> yep, him, bob pews and joe galway. >> did your father know bob and joe? >> oh, yeah. >> i imagine they had to. >> joe actually, when i found this group, joe was the first guy that i really talked to. i took this book and there were some articles with some names, during the tenth anniversary of the vietnam wall and i started -- they started helping me plug names in, and they all kept coming up at the arlington hyatt, as at some reunion. >> uh-huh. >> and i called and left a message at the hospitality suite and the guy kind of says, you know, if anybody knows your dad we'll give you a call back. i'll let general moore and joe galloway know if anybody's going to know him, it will be them. and so i figured i'd hear something the next day, because it was pretty late already. and about midnight i got a phone call, and it was joe galloway, and he said, i couldn't wait
until tomorrow to find out -- i'm sorry. if you're the daughter of my good friend charlie black. and it was nice after all those years somebody remembered. >> it was a direct connection. >> yeah. >> what did he tell you about your father? were you able to go over the next day? >> yeah, i did. and i was able to talk to him. his first words for me were, thank god you didn't look anything like your father. >> and so -- >> i think he was expecting maybe a female version of my dad and that would not have been pretty. but i was able to talk to him and he just talked a lot about how much dad taught him. as a reporter, and keeping confidences, and really, about how to get the story from the guys. the thing that everybody always talked about in dad's articles are all the names and the hometowns.
and when you think about this, a lot of the time, he was going in when a landing zone was already hot. >> yes. >> he was hitting the ground, and he's getting these names, and it was his photographic memory that allowed him to remember a lot of it. because there's no time to write it down or anything like that. and there was another reporter, john lawrence, wrote the book "the cat from way" who i've since met and he talked to me about he just followed him into a landing zone one day, and was just amazed that two minutes, he had 20 names and hometowns and everybody's story. >> wow. >> you know, so i think joe felt as though dad was a real mentor to him. >> the book is written a lot like that because there are constant mentions of names and where they're from. >> yeah. >> throughout the book. >> well, i think that -- i think that's something that joe really
learned from dad, is it was important to give their name and their hometown because people were so desperate for news. i mean we didn't have the instant news of today, where you know, my god, there was -- where was it we even saw the first marine hit the beach somewhere, you know. it's instant on. then, you know, you could wait, because these guys would type their stories over there, and if you're like my dad, you waited until you could get some soldier to frank it back for you. >> right. >> and so -- but they would really wait. that's how wives found out that their husbands were still okay, you know. or they found out where their husbands were and what they were doing. and mothers and fathers, you know, found out, okay, he mentioned my son. >> mm-hmm. >> and it was particularly important for that community in columbus. >> right. yes. >> with so many people there waiting for news. >> yes. >> so i think joe really learned
that from dad. how important that aspect of it was. the first time that i went over to the arlington hyatt, it was weird for me. because, as soon as people started finding out who i was, i was just surrounded by a group of guys, and -- but the thing that my husband noticed, and that strikes me till this day, they always touch me. >> really? >> one way or another, they need that physical connection. because they have such respect for dad. that i think they see me as a way of, you know -- >> that personal connection. >> that personal connection. and to this day, it still exists. even if they didn't know dad, they knew about his articles, and they want to connect in some way. >> right. >> and it's amazing to me, because i always like to say, i think it was because of dad's age, and where he was in his
life that he wasn't a father that was always there, you know. he was gone a lot. and then there was a divorce between he and my mother. and it wasn't until probably i was 15, 16, maybe the three years before i lost him, that we started getting a really close relationship. but what i always saw that even though maybe he wasn't the greatest father, he was a really good man. >> mm-hmm. >> just a very -- i mean, there were people who depended on him, who shared fox holes with him, and whose lives he saved. and they tell me about it. and he had equalled. he was just a very good man. >> when did he pass away? >> in -- it's hard for me to remember, 1982. i was 17. and i was born in '64. let's do the math. i kind of blank it out a little bit. it was really hard. >> i can imagine.
tell me what your experience has been with this book coming out in '92-'92 and here's galloway and your dad's mentioned. did -- general moore or joe contact you about your dad? or did -- >> they had tried to find me. that's why, when he was so anxious to speak to me, because he said they'd been trying to find me for awhile. but my parents had divorced, and we moved to north carolina, and then i went to college, moved to d.c., and was actually living in d.c. whenever i finally connected with them. and i was working two doors down from where the reunion was that year. >> it's amazing. >> yeah. >> tell me about the book, and seeing your father's name in there three times. >> that was -- yeah, that was pretty amazing. i mean it was just like, you know, here's tangible proof. you know. that -- that he was good. >> mm-hmm. >> because i think that because of the newspaper that he worked for, it was such a, you know, it was a small home -- not small, but a hometown newspaper, he
never gained the fame that perhaps some of the other journalists did. and my mother -- my mother says, you know, that dad always had a very healthy ego. and i think that always bothered him a little bit, you know, that he felt like, okay, you know, i should have my -- i should -- people should know my name a little bit more. because he knew what he did. he understood what he did. but i think that he would have loved it. and had he been alive, he would have been able to have contributed a lot to it. >> sure. >> but he would have loved the notoriety of the division, you know. he would have wanted people to know what he knew about these guys. that they really were heroes, and that they went over there and they did their jobs and they did it well. >> mm-hmm. >> and so he would have been very proud of that. >> yeah. and you brought some pictures with you and some other information. what do you have here of your father's, if you could kind of
describe it? >> sure. well we started a website called charlieblack.net. and that has a lot of his works on there. he would sometimes -- he would just write a ton of articles, i mean the big joke was that somebody would make him come out of the field, and sit him down until he produced enough that he could go back out into the field. but he wrote so many articles that sometimes they would publish two or three in a day. and -- and so we put a lot of those works on the website. >> who was doing this? >> my husband and i. my husband michael and i. and michael really is the one, he did it for me as a surprise. and gave it to me as a gift. >> oh, how nice. >> yeah. >> and what do the troopers who see these articles, these things, how do they react to that? >> well, it -- it's so far
funny, because even in the room waiting, there were three guys who came in, and one of them overheard me talking to another gentleman, and he had to come over and shake my hand, and -- and you know, i knew your dad. and he told me stories, and they don't really have to wait for me, because so many of them still have these yellowed scraps of papers that they saved. and that's how we've collected a lot of those works. guys send us things that maybe we didn't have previously, and we sent them back because through some unfortunate circumstances, there's no good archive at the columbus paper of his works. so we collect a lot from the men who collect this reunion. they'll send us scrapbooks and they trust us to take it and copy it and mail it back to them. which we had a gentleman from the last reunion from maine. he sent us a whole box of
scrapbooks. and we copied and cleaned it up and sent it back to him. and they trust us with it. which i think is an important thing. >> a lot about him. and you all, too. >> yeah. and so, but, they all like to look through the scrapbook. you know, and they're going to like the win scythe, i think. they're going to be able to do searches, maybe come up with their name, if he wrote about them. or come up with, you know, battles that they may have been in that they can read again, and remember. but they like to see things that belong to him. and they like to tell me stories about their interaction with him, if they knew him. >> right. i imagine you learn a lot about your father every time you have these conversations. >> absolutely. and because so many different people find the reunion, every year, we hear new stories every year. >> right. >> and you know, it's just --
it's amazing, really. at the dinner i'll stand up and introduce myself on saturday night, and i guarantee you that i'll meet 15 new people who want to tell me stories about him. and their contact with him. >> it's amazing. we're going to take this interview, we're going to preserve it for multiple generations into the future. so people can hear what you're saying about your father, and what you're doing now. >> mm-hmm. >> in 2005 for him. what would you like to tell people, 100 years from now, who will be listening to this, about charlie black, and about vietnam, and his experience there? >> charlie black believed in the soldiers that he covered. 100%. he trusted them with his life, and they, in turn, trusted him with their lives. and i think that says something about the quality of a man. and never once, even though he
may have hated the politics of the war, never once would my father have ever said anything derogatory about a man or woman serving in the armed services. you know. >> he was way ahead of the time. >> he felt that that was sacred. i mean, i remember watching the p.o.w.s come home. my dad had to stay home from school so that we could watch it on tv, because they would do it live then. i mean he just -- he wanted people to understand the sacrifices that were made in vietnam, and to get over the politics of it. and to understand how special these guys were. and i think that's what i would want people to know about him, is just how much he loved the soldiers, and his country. >> tracy, thank you very much. >> you're welcome. >> for sharing this with us and honoring your father and doing this. and we'll take this forward and make sure he's not forgotten.
>> from the colonial era, prohibition, to today, drinking for better or worse has always been a part of the american landscape. tonight, live, on american history tv, a history of alcohol in america. watch our simulcast of back story with the american history guys, regale with tales of beer and spirits in america, tonight at 8:00 eastern, part of american history tv, this weekend on c-span3. >> next a look at our recent visit to little rock, arkansas, a look at the city's rich history, and literary culture. you're watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. >> north little rock, all of our square miles are places that i have a great deal affection for. this one i have to say is
special to all of us. the old mill was built in the late 1930s. it was originally built by a developer who built the lakewood area, which is one of our residential subdivisions, and it was dedicated to kind of reflect a bit of art. in fact a lot of art. the concrete, as you can see, around is actually looks like petrified wood, but it's concrete. you know, the mill was actually never an operating gristmill, but it was constructed to reflect that kind of a ambience about the city's and the country's early history, and milling flour, and turning it into bread. but, it was done by an artist, actually, out of mexico. a fellow by the name of rodriguez was commissioned by the matthews family to come up and build this as a part of that residential neighborhood. and over the years, the city
took it over. and now operates it as one of our parks. one of the things that's interesting from a historical note is that this old mill is probably the only standing structure or structures that were in the movie "gone with the wind." the history reflects that that got on the script list of scenes, and in the opening credits, wasn't on very long, came up, and we now claim that title from a literary standpoint. there's a lot that goes on here. you know, readings take place, weddings take place, we have folks who rent it for various things. it's just become a symbol of north little rock. so we're awful excited about sharing that with people who come in from around the country. and frankly, it's a little bit of heaven on earth.
at least from those folks who get to enjoy it here in north little rock. so we want to welcome everybody presently as your viewers to north little rock's old mill. and ask them to come whenever they have a chance to be in the neighborhood. >> find out where c-span's local content vehicles are going next. online at c spine.org/localcontent. you're watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. >> an air of mystery has surrounded this bronze likeness of alexander hamilton since the day it was unveiled in 1923. author james m. good in his definitive book on the outdoor sculpture of washington, d.c. in dedicating the ten foot tall figure that greets visitors to the treasury department building, president warren harding made reference to an anonymous donor. might it possibly have been the gift of andrew mellon whom admirers in the 20s liked to describe as the greatest
secretary of the treasury since hamilton himself? sculpted by james earle frazier, a protege of augustus saint garden hamilton wears a slightly quizzical look on his handsome face. perhaps he is straining to recognize his surroundings. after all, it was his famous deal with congressional supporters of thomas jefferson that led to federal assumption of state debts, in return for the capital's removal from money mad new york to an entirely new city to be built on the banks of the potomac. the pedestal on which he stands makes no reference to hamilton's real estate transactions. it pays tribute, instead, to his financial genius. he smoked the rock of the national resources, it reads, and abundant streams of revenue gushed forth. he touched the dead corpse of the public credit and it sprang upon its feet.
>> when he was embedded in eastern afghanistan the soldiers started telling me the u.s. government was wasting tens of billions of dollars on totally mismanaged development and logistics contracts. >> in funding the enemy, douglas wissing follows the money in afghanistan and finds corruption from top to bottom. >> i was in one meeting where the brigade commander, an incredibly effective guy named colonel mike howard, this is not long after president obama took office, and the state department was out there saying okay, we're going to give you a whole bunch of development money. it's counterinsurgency, we're going to do this. win the hearts and minds, nation build. and colonel howard said, don't send me any more money. send me -- send me contract officers that can oversee this stuff. i need people. i don't need more money. >> douglas wissing on bankrolling the enemy sunday night at 8:00 easter